How to Make it Through an Interview You Know You’re Underqualified For

If you are straight out of nursing school or relatively new to the profession it can be daunting to apply for a job that’s slightly out of your reach.  Kudos to you for pushing through your self-doubt because however underqualified you might feel, your fabulous cover letter and impressive resume enticed the hiring manager to bring you in for a closer look.  Now that you’ve landed the interview, what can you do to show up strong and stay that way through the final stages of the interview process even though other candidates appear to be better qualified for the job?  Here are some tips to help you maintain your confidence and hold your ground. 

Understand the difference between “must have” skills and “nice to have” skills.

Even if you’re not a cookie cutter fit for the job description, do not rule yourself out of the race.  In fact, while many job descriptions list a bunch of “ideal” attributes and qualifications, rarely does a single candidate fulfill all the criteria.  It’s fairly common for new hires to grow into their role and rely on transferrable skills to push them to a higher level of performance.

Believe in yourself.

An interview is not designed to throw you under the bus.  Rather, it offers the employer valuable insight into your personality and abilities and helps you determine whether the opportunity is a good fit for your credentials and career goals.  You might feel a little green about some of the job’s prerequisites, but realize that the employer sees something in your background and experience that indicates a set of skills, interests, and work values in line with their needs. True, once the interview process begins, it’s up to you to sell yourself, but you need not cave in to feelings of inadequacy.  Instead, discuss how the skills you bring to the table and the career and personal challenges you have faced have driven you to a higher level of professionalism and expertise in areas relevant to the position.

Be prepared.

In order to stay in the game when other potential hires are taking the lead by ticking off all (or most) of the boxes, you’ll need to demonstrate how your skill-set, drive, and past accomplishments sufficiently compensate for your lack of experience.  Essentially, overcoming the “underqualified” status begins when you mentally put yourself in the role.  Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Make sure you gather as much information as you can about the job’s responsibilities and the organization prior to the interview.  Be familiar with any buzz words or industry jargon referred to in the job posting.  Having this knowledge and using it to ask job-related questions or simply to converse intelligently with a prospective employer demonstrates your range of thinking and presents you in a favorable light despite your shortcomings.
  • Scrutinize the ad or job posting to identify how your skills can meet the job’s demands.  List any and all experiences or accomplishments (job-related, college or nursing school, volunteer work) that demonstrate how your skills are transferable to the job you are pursuing.
  • Give thought to any obstacles that would stand in the way of an employer hiring you and make sure you can counter those objections with an example that stifles their concerns.  Anticipating these obstacles beforehand and providing an immediate response to an employer’s uncertainties gives the impression that you are on pulse with their needs, have a problem-solving mindset, and are quick on your feet—which are all desirable traits in a job candidate.
  • In addition to your transferrable skills make sure to reveal that little something extra you can bring to the table.  Maybe your year-long sabbatical assisting local communities in Cambodia explains why you are passionate about implementing programs that lead to better healthcare.  Perhaps working in the field for Doctors without Borders explains why you are an adept first responder even if you’ve never worked in an ER.  What your past says about you is sometimes more than enough to land a job even when you are light on some of the qualifications an employer seeks.

Show your passion about the job.

When it comes right down to it, employers can be convinced to take a leap of faith on a less experienced candidate who demonstrates a high level of enthusiasm about the job rather than hire an employee who meets the criteria but comes across as lackluster.

Whether you are looking for tips on how to handle challenges in the workplace or want to pursue your career options, rely on BOS Medical.  Our nursing and healthcare staffing recruiters go above and beyond to match each of our candidates to the right job.  Contact BOS Medical today to find your next opportunity.

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